Robert Marchand is a stone-cold savage at 105 years old. At an age when most are grateful just to walk to the bathroom, the French cyclist set a world record Wednesday by pedaling 14 miles in one hour.
But Marchand, it turns out, isn’t just a cyclist. He is a true renaissance man. Wednesday’s world record isn’t simply an athletic accomplishment it’s a window into The Tao of Robert, which can teach all of us a thing or two about living righteously.
Marchand set his record in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, a town located just east of Paris. He set the world mark in cycling’s 105-and-over age group a category created just for him. And why, besides the above, is Marchand our new sports hero?
Here are six standout reasons, culled from the Associated Press account of his world record.
1. He talks mad shit (well, kinda)
After setting his world record, Marchand said he could have performed better had he not missed a sign telling him he had 10 minutes left to cycle.
“Otherwise I would have gone faster, I would have posted a better time,” he said. “I’m not tired.”
The 105-year-old also issued an open challenge.
“I’m now waiting for a rival,” he said.
2. Small man, big heart
Marchand stands just five feet tall, but he’s got a lot of heart like, literally.
“He’s got two essential qualities. A big heart that pumps a lot of blood, and he can reach high heart beat values that are exceptional for his age,” Veronique Billat, Marchand’s physiologist, said.
3. He’s a man of principle
Billat, too, insisted that Marchand could have performed better Wednesday. But not because the cyclist missed his 10-minute warning. Because Marchand recently took a moral stand at the expense of his own statistics.
“He could have been faster but he made a big mistake,” Billat said of Marchand. “He has stopped eating meat over the past month after being shocked by recent reports on how animals are subjected to cruel treatment.”
A role model on and off the bike.
4. Count him out at your own risk
As a youth, Marchand was reportedly told by a coach that he should abandon cycling for lack of talent.
That was almost a century ago. Wednesday he set a world record.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it, coach.
5. He’s well-rounded
Marchand, who was born in 1911, is a former firefighter. He also worked as a truck driver in Venezuela in the 1940s, and as a lumberjack in Canada after that.
He only picked up cycling at 68 years old, nearly half a century ago. In 1992, he cycled from Moscow to Paris.
6. His daily routine is just so charming
Marchand doesn’t smoke. He drinks wine only on occasion. He eats lots of fruits and vegetables. He goes to bed at 9 p.m. every night and rises at 6 a.m. every morning.
He lives off a monthly pension of about $950 in a small apartment in a suburb of Paris. There, Marchand rides daily on a stationary bike and is an avid reader of L’Humanite, a communist newspaper founded in 1904, at the dawn of a new century and just seven years before he was born.
And a final bonus: Just look at the guy
Inspiration, thy name is Robert Marchand.